MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs LA Galaxy

RCompetition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Wednesday, September 7 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST) 

Match Odds: RSL 21/20 – Draw 23/10 – LA Galaxy 12/5

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake host LA Galaxy in a huge Western Conference battle between two long-standing MLS rivals on Wednesday night.

The Playoff battle is really heating up now, with both these sides set to be left with just six to play following Wednesday’s battle at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Real Salt Lake come into the game fresh after not playing at the weekend. They are fourth in the West but are tied on points with both Colorado and LA Galaxy, who fill the two spots above them.

Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake - Joao Plata Celebrates

A midweek win here would leave RSL just five points behind Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas so it’s a huge game for the home side. They have beaten Dallas and Colorado at home in their last two games and could complete an impressive hat-trick of victories with three points here.

LA Galaxy arrive at RSL off the back of their first win in seven on Saturday. Bruce Arena’s side emerged from a tricky spell with a 2-1 home win against Vancouver, thanks to a pair of fine goals from Baggio Husidic and Giovani Dos Santos.

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The return of Robbie Keane will boost confidence further, though the Galaxy have not won away at RSL since 2013 and have not scored at Rio Tinto in their last four visits.

Their away form has been better this season than it was during the 2015 campaign, but they have not managed to seal a victory in their last three road games.

Team News

Real Salt Lake will be without Emery Welshman and Aaron Maund once again, while Sunday Stephen remains a doubt. Omar Holness and Kyle Beckerman are away on international duty and won’t return in time to play on Wednesday night.

LA Galaxy have a concerning injury list to worry about as the postseason edges ever closer. Gyasi Zardes is out for the season, while Jelle Van Damme and Steven Gerrard remain sidelined, so the absence of those three leaves Bruce Arena short-staffed in key areas. Robbie Keane should be back after retiring from international duty in last week’s Ireland game against Oman.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/W/L/W/W

LA Galaxy’s last five: D/L/D/D/W

Key Stat: Real Salt Lake are unbeaten in seven home games against LA Galaxy, winning four of those games, including each of the last two meetings at Rio Tinto.

Key Player: Yura Movsisyan – The Armenian striker scored twice in RSL’s 2-1 win over Colorado last time out and now has nine goals for the season. The Designated Player looks to be in good form and will be hoping to hurt the Galaxy backline here.

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Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 2-1 LA Galaxy – RSL look to have hit a strong run of a form at the best possible time and are poised to win a third-straight league game for the second time this season as they look to move into second in the West. The home support gives them a major advantage, as well as the fact LA have a trio of key absentees. There should be goals here, but RSL ultimately look in better shape to edge this.

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2016 MLS Season Preview: Real Salt Lake

As the 2016 MLS season edges ever closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what the Real Salt Lake could achieve this season.

Real Salt Lake head into the new season with plenty of room for improvement after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Western Conference last campaign. Head coach Jeff Cassar has added some new faces to his side in an attempt to freshen things up but this is going to be a tough season ahead and they are going to have to work extremely hard to improve. The fans will not want another season of struggles, so with sides around them becoming stronger, they must remain competitive in what is a fiercely competitive conference. The aim will be to make the playoffs, after missing out for the first time in eight years in 2015.

Last Season’s Finish:

Western Conference – Position: 9th – P34 – W11 – D8 – L15

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What Needs To Change This Year?

Real Salt Lake must tighten up at the back. They conceded 48 goals last season, while netting just 38. They need to ensure they pick up points from sides around them in the Western Conference as clashes with fellow promotion chasers are fiercely competitive. Cassar’s side need to score more goals as their tally of 38 was the second-lowest across both conferences. Signings have been brought in to try and add to the goal tally, while the return of Joao Plata will hep. They lost 15 games last term – the most in one campaign since 2007 – and ensuring they don’t repeat that mistake will put them in a better position.

Key Changes:

InsChris Wingert – Defender, Danilo Acosta – Midfielder, Omar Holness – Midfielder, Sunny Obayen – Midfielder, Emery Welshman – Forward & Yura Movsisyan – Forward

Outs: Elias Vasquez – Defender, Chris Schular – Defender, Abdoulie Mansally – Defender, Pecka – Midfielder, Luis Silva – Midfielder, Sebastian Saucedo – Midfielder & Sebastian Jaime – Forward

Key Player: 

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Nick Rimando – Goalkeeper – As mentioned, the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper saw his side’s goal breached 48 times last season, so he can expect yet another busy campaign between the sticks. He is a top performer for his side, despite the fact that RSL struggled in the 2015 season. The veteran will turn 37 in the 2016 campaign but as we know, age is less relevant with goalkeepers and his experience could be key as RSL look to pick up more points and cause a few upsets.

One to Watch:

Yura Movsisyan – Forward – The Armenian forward returns to Real Salt Lake for a second spell – his previous stint coming between 2007-2009 where he helped RSL to lift the 2009 MLS Cup, scoring once in the playoffs. The 28-year-old striker joins RSL on loan from Russian side Spartak Moscow and is a player that the Claret and Cobalt fans will be looking forward to watching again. His MLS record stands at 20 goals in 81 outings for Real Salt Lake and Kansas City, so he has already shown he is capable in front of goal. The league has changed since he was last involved and he will need to adapt quickly. There is pressure on him to help RSL improve on last season and if he gets off to a good start he could have quite an impact.

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Predicted Finish:

Western Conference – 9th – It may be a downer for Real Salt Lake fans but their current squad doesn’t seem to be one which can improve on last season. They have lost more players than they have signed and squad depth is important – so they could struggle from the off. RSL lost four of their last five of the 2015 campaign and face a tough start to 2016, with three of their first five games away from home. They must ensure they pick up points wherever possible early on to avoid confidence being shattered. There are reasons for optimism, with Joao Plata’s return from injury and the signing of Movsisyan likely to help the team improve but it is difficult at this point to see them climbing the conference.

What are you expecting from Real Salt Lake in 2016?

Former Real Salt Lake Striker interested in MLS return – report

Former Real Salt Lake striker Yura Movsisyan is interested in a return to Major League Soccer, according to his agent.

When asked of a potential move back to the States, Movsisyan’s agent Patrick McCabe stated that “he’s very interested in a return to MLS”, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Selected as the 4th overall pick in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft by the Kansas City Wizards, Movsisyan is currently playing for Spartak Moscow in the Russian Premier League, and is supposedly exploring his options. With his agent adding that MLS would be a desired destination.

“It would be a number of options I think he would have, but he’s definitely open-minded at this point.

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“I’m hopeful that a return to MLS can be worked out, but I’m also realistic in that I know it may not,” said McCabe.

An MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake in 2009, Movsisyan boasts an impressive record with the franchise, scoring 15 goals in 53 appearances for the Western Conference outfit.

A move to Real Salt Lake would be likely, should he return to MLS. However, its impossible to rule out a reunification with former boss Jason Kreis. Kreis is of course manager of expansion franchise New York City FC.

Would Yura Movsisyan benefit from a move back to Major League Soccer in the near future?